4 Things I Did To Book “This Is Us” (And How To Shine In Every Self-Tape)


I’m so excited to reveal the “behind-the-scenes” mindset, process and preparation that landed me a juicy role on the final season of “This Is Us,” that I booked off a self-tape.

I play the poised but skeptical dance academy director Linda Darroe, who becomes an advocate of Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), giving her an opportunity to invite untapped talent to be part of the City Ballet Of Philadelphia’s scholarship program. 

You can read the full press release here.  

So how does this relate to you?   Well, maybe you have been working hard, turning in awesome self-tapes, and wondering “where’s mine?”

Well, not only do I get it (I heard lots of “no”s, before this lovely “yes”), and  today, I’m breaking down exactly what I did to book the role, and the mindset behind each empowering perspective.

I’ve also included what to affirm for yourself, so you can adopt this new mindset today. 

I hope these simple shifts help you to rock every self-tape that comes your way. 

4 Things I Did To Book This Is Us (And How To Shine In Every Self-Tape)

1) I focused on the fun.
I clearly remember thinking, “I’m going to do this one for me, for the fun of it.”  So I didn’t go into my self-tape thinking “I need to book this job,” or “What can I do differently to book this?”  I hope you can  clearly see what a difference it will make in all of your auditions if you truly can let go of “needing to book the job” and instead focus on the fun of having an opportunity to play and share your gifts.  It’s a subtle shift that will make all the difference.

And yes, you may start “focusing on the fun” and still not book the job, but in the long run, the right roles will find their way to you, and you will have had a much happier journey getting to that point.

Affirm: I focus on the fun of doing my auditions. I am in the game.

2) I brought all of me to the role.
I remember reading the sides and seeing that this episode revolved around the dance world, one I knew very well.  I have a professional dance background and studied dance at The Hubbard Street Dance Company in Chicago when I was first starting out. So the dance world environment was easy for me to bring to life (even while self-taping in my garage).  I could see everything I was talking about so specifically and knowingly.

When you realize that your vast life experience can help shape your work as an actor, you start trusting that bringing all of you to each audition makes your work so much more specific. (Even if you don’t get the job, you’ll turn in a memorable performance). 

Affirm: I bring all of me to each role.  I trust that my vast life experience can help shape my work.

3) I let go of “showing” and focused on “being.”
When the character description stated she was, “poised, elegant, and commanding,” I knew I didn’t have to “show” that I was any of those things.  Sure, I leaned in that direction with my hair, makeup and wardrobe, but I also know that when I walk into a room (or my self-tape studio), at 5’10” with a professional dance background, I already am these things, and I don’t need to “show it.”  (I do always wear the shoes of the character, as footwear will also inform your body language.  Don’t skip that detail, just because the camera can’t see it.  Shoes make a difference).

The trap is in thinking you have to somehow “show it,” in an obvious and external way, instead of trusting that we get you, and you can simply “be it.”  This is where you let it all go and trust that you are enough.

Affirm: I am enough. I don’t have to show it.  I can simply be it.

4) I turned in my self-tape before the deadline.
I got the audition on a Wednesday at 8pm.  It was due on Friday at 9am.  I got it in on Thursday by 2pm.  I didn’t do this in a rushed way, but I also knew that Friday morning, I’d have to get 2 kids to school and the sounds of leaf blowers in our neighborhood on Friday mornings are off the charts. So I moved things around in my schedule to make sure I could devote the time I needed to the script and the self-tape all by Thursday afternoon.

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Have your equipment ready to go and reschedule things to make your acting work the priority.

Affirm: I make my acting work the priority.  I commit to turning in self-tapes before the deadline.

I hope this helps you trust that perhaps you are already doing all the right things, and it’s just a matter of time or maybe you see where you are pushing, needing or showing, and now you can have more fun, trust and let go.

I’d love to hear in the comments below which one spoke to you the most and what you’ll now affirm to yourself.

Love + Gratitude,

P.S.. Download this free Self-Tape Success Checklist as your quick + easy guide to eliminate overwhelm + know the exact questions to ask yourself so you can deliver your best audition every single time. 

After you leave a comment below, if you want more of a sneak peek “behind-the-scenes,” check out what it really takes to get to the set on time + 5 more tips to help you book more often.


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46 thoughts on “4 Things I Did To Book “This Is Us” (And How To Shine In Every Self-Tape)”

  1. Thanks for this Wendy, I think they all speak in different ways, but number 1 landed for me. We can put so much pressure on ourselves and forget to enjoy auditioning. This is also the work after all!

  2. Hi Wendy, Thanks for sharing these tips, they’re great! I feel like I’m already doing most of these things except for #4 – I’ve been getting a lot of auditions for larger recurring guest star roles which I know is great (the roles are subsequently direct offers and go to better-known talent – oh well, at least I’m getting opportunities) but I struggle with submitting my tape early because I worry about being fully off-book so I give myself as much time as possible to memorize, but I worry that submitting my tape closer to (but always before) the deadline is hurting my chances. What is your opinion on being fully memorized vs. being familiar enough with the text that an occasional glance at the script is needed even if some of the lines are paraphrased or even dropped? Thanks!

    1. Hey Adam,
      I’d say to do with your gut and do your best work. And if you need more time with the material, definitely take it – and still get it in early. Ultimately you want to feel great about your work. That’s they key. You got this. Good luck!

  3. Wonderful advice Wendy . I’m just coming back into the business after 9 years and it’s a completely different business in how we need to approach things . I really appreciate your generosity and honesty .

  4. Congrats Wendy…so exciting!!
    I’m going to say all 4 points resonate with me. My last booking last week, which was my quickest turnaround EVER. Request came in Friday afternoon, casting wanted tape submit ASAP Friday to possibly shoot Monday. Instead of complaining I told my rep I’ll do it and knocked it out in about 45 minutes. I had fun, brought me into it, I already knew the world so I was just there. So, I did book and filmed last Tuesday. Self tape before that I submitted early and got pinned and still pinned for a film. Thank you for sharing ❤️

    1. YES! Congrats! And isn’t that the way? Sometimes when we don’t have time to over-analyze it + we just go with our gut + let our instincts lead the way. That’s it right there!

  5. Bernadette Janssen

    Wendy!!! As always my friend, your words are so thoughful & empowering! Those first 3 points resonated so much! As I enter my 10th year in the Industry, and I am getting more & more self tape auditions these days, I feel like I am letting go more, and these points are FINALLY becoming part of me. To always remind me though, I am putting this article in with my self tape set up!!
    Here’s to, “Having Fun”, to, “Bringing ALL of Me to the Role” and to, “Allowing myself to “Be it”.
    and gosh, there is so much confidence in “being it”, as opposed to the angst of trying to “show it”.
    Sidenote – Your response in one of the comments will never leave me.
    “Can’t have a happy ending to an unhappy journey”. Wow. Life summed up right there.

    Congratulations on your role my friend, you crushed it! Thank you for always inspiring us & for your sharing and teaching, so we all can create that happy journey!

    1. You are so welcome. So glad to hear you are getting more and more auditions and bringing all of you to the roles! Go Bernie!

  6. Focusing on the fun – that is a huge mindset shift!! Also takes me back to when I was a kid, enjoying playing pretend and being different characters because it was fun – there was no doubt nor self-questions on whether I was “doing it right” (which contribute unnecessary stress to the process).

  7. Hi Wendy – These first 4 points are absolutely perfect for me to grab before I record my self tape today!!! TY soooo much. I am definitely going to have serious FUN!! X0X Debra Kay Lee

    1. Awesome! So glad these 4 points were perfect for you just before your self-tape. I’m sure you rocked it!

    1. Sandra Nelson

      Congratulations! WOOHOO! I saw that episode and I said YES loudly. You did an outstanding job. I love THIS IS US!
      I love the Press Release and I learned so much! I use those points. Thanks for Sharing!

  8. Hey it sounds like all the things you mentioned above hide I’m Doing those exact things I have enthusiasm I’m happy the rose sounds challenging to me and I can’t wait to do it and a lot of times I don’t ever get the part But that’s OK because I know I’ve done my very best and it’s just a matter of time that I will book something that’s gonna blow my mind and it’s not too far away from happening I can feel it in my spirit and in my bones thank you for sharing

    1. So glad you are doing “all the things” Clark! Keep focusing on the fun + I’m sure a booking is right around the corner.

    1. Iracema N McCann

      #2. Bringing all of you ! My life experiences are truly many and diverse . I’ve carried a lot of titles / roles in my life. I know and do feel very capable of being and bringing just me I enjoyed every minute of the ups and learned so much from my downs . So I know I CAN do this one .

  9. Thank you for your wonderful insight.
    You so beautifully summarized my acting venture-
    “You may start “focusing on the fun” and still not book the job, but in the long run, the right roles will find their way to you, and you will have had a much happier journey getting to that point.”

    1. Firstly CONGRATULATIONS ON THE BOOKINGG!!! I’ve noticed having fun has helped me more than anything. It’s helped me to not think I’m some bad actor, because when I look back at the tapes I see that I was truly living in those moments and making clear decisions.

  10. Wendy, first off Congratulations to you and booking “This is Us”! This was refreshing to read. What stuck like glue for me was just being , knowing that I am enough and having much more fun with self tapes. Continue success on your journey! Peace and Thank you!

  11. Sherrick O'Quinn

    Thank you for this read! I literally just finished submitting a pilot self tape and saw your email in my inbox this morning. So on time! I really resonated with focus on the fun, and being rather showing. These are both areas I wanna keep leaning into and I’m already putting into practice in ways. I worked with someone on this audition and felt like the way they were guiding me was away from the fun and being me. I was viscerally jarred. I ended up scrapping that work and stuck to my gut and really enjoyed the audition!

  12. The “having fun” with it mindset is one I’ve been told in class before too. But I find it so hard to get out of my head and just thinking how much I desperately want the job. But I will definitely be focusing on having that mindset this month for sure!

    1. Yes, it can be a tricky thing, when, OF COURSE we want the job. But the energy of “wanting” the job and “having” the job is very different. And (most of the time) those who are doing the job are having FUN. So why not lead with that! You got this.

  13. Hey Wendy! I spotted you right away last week in This is Us snd I was so excited to see you! You killed it by the way! Thank you for these great tips, and congrats! It’s kind of you to think about how to help all of us by sharing your tips. Here’s to the next big booking for both of us! 🥂

      1. Dear Wendy,
        May I ask you first of all you are so inspiring to me,,, Justin lee,, who was your first agent, I’m dealing with an agent where I work at but I’m considering working with 2 agents since there small and freelance.

        Thank you
        Justin lee

        Ps should I use more then one agent or stick with only one.

        1. Thanks Justin. It’s definitely a marathon + not a sprint. I started with a very small agent in Pasadena (after the top 10 commercial agents in LA all turned me down). Then 3 years later I booked 19 national commercials in one year. So, depending on your market (and if you sign an exclusive contract), and what area you are signed with them (commercial, tv/film etc) will depend on if you can have multiple agents. I like have different agents for different areas of the business. If you can freelance with more than one, then go for it + focus on creating solid relationships. Good luck!

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